After making three one-month trips to Japan during an 18-month period in 1989-1991, I moved there in early 1991 to live for an indeterminate period, at the outset expected to be up to one year. This stretched to eight and a half years, including marriage and commencing a family, before we all made Australia our permanent home from early 2000. A number of trips back have taken place since.
This document commenced life as a series of one-off articles written during this residency, each article arising either from an everyday occurrence, a conversation, a news item, or a newspaper article.
Initially my reading about Japan was limited to historically-oriented reference material and newspaper articles. Over the years I supplemented this by reading English translations of Japanese novels, which I found to be an excellent way of gaining a feel for life in Japan and its people during different eras. It also enabled me to gain insights into how the Japanese viewed themselves. Most of these books were borrowed from the Fukuoka Municipal Library, an excellent resource housed in a modern climate-controlled building in the reclaimed seaside area of Momochi.
On my return to Australia I decided to type up these stories, which ultimately led to their being strung together in the format now before you. As part of this process, I delved further into other books and sources of information about Japan, to expand upon and provide more detail about the themes already laid out. Had I not been forced to have a huge cleanout of my belongings before returning to Australia, which to my regret included some of my hundreds of newspaper clippings, I no doubt would have had ideas for countless additional topics.
This initial draft lay dormant for over a decade, until in 2013 I decided to revisit and update it, with a view to making it publicly available. This revision process necessitated substantial additional research and revision, now with the aid of the internet.
All the references I drew on contributed to my feelings for and understanding of Japan. They showed me that although long-term visitors there have some similar experiences, each of us has our own unique set of circumstances. Like much of urban Japan, where politics ensures construction works are always being undertaken and hence the physical environment is constantly changing, Japan is an unfolding story, a rich source of material for those with an interest in writing and reading about it.